MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said he was taken aback by the intense reaction to comments he made criticizing Israel's military actions in Gaza, but said he is an "unambiguously strong" supporter of the Jewish state, Politico reports.
The former Florida GOP congressman spoke out about the recent Palestinian civilian deaths on "Morning Joe" Thursday, calling Israel's most recent attacks "asinine." He also said that the Palestinian death toll was "tragic" and harmful for both Israel and the United States and suggested the United States should distance itself from Israel's actions if the violence continues.
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"I remain as unambiguously strong a supporter of Israel as I always have been," Scarborough said in an interview, according to Politico.
"I didn't think that this would spur discussion but it certainly has," he said, adding that most of the feedback he has received has been "positive and understanding."
At least 1,300 Palestinians, most of whom are believed to be civilians, have died since the violence broke out in the Middle East earlier this month, the Associated Press reported, according to Politico.
Scarborough said that his concern about Palestinian civilian deaths has "been building for some time."
He said that with each death, "Israel not only weakens their standing across the world, they strengthen the standing of Hamas inside Palestinian territories."
"Far from taking an antagonistic approach towards Israel," he added, "I am most concerned about Israel's long-term security. And Israel does not become more secure by increasing attacks that continue to kill women and children," he said in the interview explaining his earlier comments.
"I think that what we're seeing on television sets in the summer of 2014 could very well lead to an increased radicalization of Palestinians and could replace Hamas with a group every bit as radicalized and extreme as ISIS."
At the same time, Scarborough emphasized that he has long supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and acknowledged that that he would have difficulty ascribing blame to anyone for responding to "a situation where hundreds of rockets rain down on their country," as is the case with Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel, Politico reported.
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